Welcome back to the second week of Nate and Sarah’s Christmas Eve dinner. Tonight we’re moving onto the main course where Joe, Sarah’s father, has made his signature dish: Beef Bolognese & Pappardelle Pasta.


Sarah Munro ~ “After we finished our Winter Salads, my father insists on clearing the table alone. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s because we were just talking about my mother. Although she died many years ago, she adored Christmas. While we ate and listened to Christmas music in the background, the conversation shifted to how my mother used to decorate the house and make all the cookies. Nate, my new husband, also shared his favorite Christmas memories. But his are even sadder than mine since his parents were killed when he was young.

Sensing the sadness drawn from sharing our memories, Nate told a joke that brought us all back to the present and our current hard won happiness. Still, I think that my father needed a few minutes alone which is why he insisted on serving the dinner alone.

Once my father leaves the room, the music shifts from Bing Crosby to Nate King Cole. Nate takes my hand and kisses my palm. Then he draws me out of the chair and towards the sparkling Christmas tree in the corner. Months ago, when we were so desperate to save each other from our enemies, we took a few precious hours to ourselves and danced to Nat King Cole. Now that his Christmas music floats around us, Nate draws me into his arms and starts a slow dance. I lean my head against his shoulder but I don’t close my eyes. I want to stay in the moment, and I say a silent prayer of thanks. For the first time in years, I’m happy and safe. And I’m so incredibly grateful.

As Nate spins me, the colorful lights along the fireplace mantle and the Christmas tree sparkle. Not just because they’re beautiful, but because my tears make them shimmer.

“Hey,” Nate whispers, “What’s wrong?”

I look up at him and smile. “Nothing.”

He kisses my nose. “Then why the tears?”

I lean my head agains his hard chest again and he slows the dance into a soft sway. “They’re happy tears.”

He chuckles and I feel the rumbles in his chest beneath my cheek. “If you say so.”

I don’t even respond. I just let him hold me and watch the beautiful lights move in and out of focus. I never realized how “happy” happy tears could be. A few minutes later, or maybe an hour, my father arrives carrying a tray. Nate lets me go and I wipe my face with my hands. I don’t want my father to think I’m sad.

Nate and my dad place the plates on the table while I pour us all some more wine. Nate is practically drooling over my father’s Beef Bolognese and Pappardelle Pasta. I squeeze his hand and say, “It tastes even better than it smells.”

Nate groans and reaches for the small bowl of freshly grated parmesan cheese. My dad just smiles and we all sit.

The music changes again, this time to Julie Andrews, and I take my first bite. Again, my eyes fill up. This time I don’t hide them because I’m beginning to realize that happy tears shouldn’t be hidden. Happy tears are a Christmas gift that remind me of all of my blessings.”

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